Startled man

…poem for day 8 of National Poetry Month 2012…


Startled Man


she is birthed
in his fractured dreams
as weak as a forest fawn
helpless as a snowflake
falling on a May predawn

he needs her frail
for at his sheltered core
he’s filled with mounting doubt
knows his time of tyranny
is quickly running out

but strong of will
she knows her mind
and speaks direct to what she sees
startled by her forthright way
he wants her down upon her knees

he seeks to dominate
silences her upraised voice
to keep her under thumb
he shunts her right of choice

she is captive
to his fearful heart
sustained in twisted fantasy
conjured by his crippled soul
stillborn in his fallacy

this seed
of possibility
this herald
to set the bitter free
now a lifeless
whose sorrow
haunts the growing dusk
whose spirit withers
in the dimming light
as nightmares rise
in the coming night
whose tears
parch the barren land
now denies
his outstretched hand

his courage is strained
to its final strand
as hope dies
for the startled man

• • •

rob kistner © 2012

• linked at Magpie Tales

14 thoughts on “Startled man”

  1. That’s nicely written and so much apt for the image prompt.
    Filled with profound imagery with wonderful verses.
    I loved the last stanza
    “his courage is strained
    to its final strand
    as hope dies
    for the startled man”

  2. Eee…. Shades of a husband past, who I left long before he destroyed every breath I took. Shades of a husband past…who died trying.
    Brilliant capture!

  3. I like this Rob, not every story has a happy ending. There are plenty of permanent zombies among us, there is an end point to hope, but you are not among them, quite the reverse.
    This poem teems with life and renewal, and hope looms large in it. You have evoked the polar opposite of what you “see”

    1. Actually zongrik, I envision this as far more complex than that. I did not see this as the serene emergence of fresh infancy/youth here. From the look of the face, I saw a ‘spent’ young woman leaving her shell (her constrained captivity) — a woman drained, perhaps of her vital nurturing feminine life force, by a man (or by a partner or by society), who has tried to parasitically keep her down. This is in fact her re-birth from that debilitating emotional captivity. She appears more resolved than serene in her emergence here, and saddened by having to give up on (denies her originally outstretched hand) the one she has endeavored to, and may still to some degree, love (or give up on a prejudiced repressive society) — as evidenced in the sallow look and plaintive expression on her face. The term “courage” in the final stanza is sarcasm, because the ‘entity’ who has kept her in this shell and drained her so, is in fact a coward. The ‘hope’ that has died is the ‘only hope’ the oppressor has ever had of knowing or understanding genuine love, and of the woman’s hope that the oppressor was able to receive real love. However, in that death, there is the rekindling of the hope for love in the heart of the woman oppressed here.

  4. Extremely powerful words and poem. The bond between the man and woman that weds them at first and then comes unraveled is told with special sympathy and understanding. I enjoyed how you were able to understand both equally, each for themselves casting them in the light that makes each human, none victim.

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